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Saint Mary’s Showcase of Careers creates job opportunities

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, November 17, 2005

Despite high winds and snow flurries, students packed Reignbeaux Lounge in LeMans Hall at Saint Mary’s for the annual Showcase of Careers that ran from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

With more than 45 companies present this year, there were plenty of opportunities for students to make professional contacts for future jobs and internships. The career fair was open to students of all ages from Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross.

Director of the Saint Mary’s Center for Career Opportunities Jeff Roberts said Saint Mary’s has offered some sort of career fair for more than 30 years.

“It is a good starting point for students,” Roberts said. “If they choose to follow-up with a phone call or an interview, then the chance, of course, increases.”

Attending does not guarantee students interviews or jobs, Roberts said, but it certainly increases their chances.

“There is a definite correlation, however, between the number of organizations a student talks to and the opportunities they create from the job fair,” he said.

Michael Sanders, director of Indiana Careers at Saint Mary’s and assistant professor in the business department, said the Showcase of Careers was very beneficial for job-hunting students.

“To my knowledge, students have gotten jobs after coming to the showcase,” Sanders said. “[Saint Mary’s] invite employers to the fair that like to hire our students.”

Juniors and seniors, who are beginning to feel the pressure to secure a job after graduation, were the biggest groups represented, Sanders said. However, underclasswomen also attended to get a jump-start on the job market.

“I am here mainly to get information, not necessarily find a job,” freshman Jayde Kennedy said. “I wanted to come so that it could help me see what kinds of things I could do with my major.”

Roberts made a clear effort to invite a variety of companies to campus for the students.

“We extended invites to over 300 companies so that the students could have a cornucopia of options and career paths to choose from,” Roberts said.

Roberts and Sanders also worked in conjunction with students so they knew what companies to speak to and what companies would be best for their field of study.

“We make sure they [the students] know who is here,” Sanders said. “We make introductions and give them information so that nothing is overlooked.”

Organizations represented ranged from non-profit and post-graduate volunteer programs to banks, the military, the FBI, laboratory internships and many others. The companies that could not physically be present still left information about their company and the opportunity for interested students to leave a résumé.

“We are looking for someone with a professional image who would like to stay relatively in the Michiana area,” said Abigail Zahner of 1st Source Bank. “We recruit from schools in the area, namely IUSB, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Ivy Tech.”

When asked about the success of job fairs in the past, she said, “I have definitely seen success in the past because if students are willing to make the effort to come out and get information, they are most likely willing to get onboard in the future.”

Senior Lindsay Cook said having several dozen organizations right on campus is quite convenient.

“It is nice that [companies] come to us because during the school year, it is hard to go out and distribute your résumé to companies,” Cook said. “I mean, I would still be proactive about it, but overall, it is easier that all the companies are in one place right here.”

Representatives said they were looking for students with a wide variety of majors and specific interests.

“We aren’t just looking for writers or artists,” said Aaron Woodsworthy, publicity director at the Writer’s Center of Indiana. “We are looking for people who are passionate about helping people and want to positively affect the community.”

The Writer’s Center of Indiana makes appearances at one or two career fairs per year. It was at such an event where executive director Emily Watson was hired.

“I think it is a good opportunity for students, and we come to Saint Mary’s because we already have connections here and want to make those connections bigger,” Watson said.

Some companies were just looking for summer candidates. Chemist Beth Blakeslee of Dow AgroSciences, said she was contacted by the chemistry department at Saint Mary’s and was interested in hiring interns for the summer.

“We have had a lot of success recruiting for chemistry, but this year we are looking specifically for interns, not full-time workers,” Blakeslee said.

Be it internships, full-time work after graduation or simply gaining information and insight on a particular field, the Saint Mary’s Showcase of Careers created opportunities for students of all ages and majors.

“More students were exposed to many different companies and types of work, giving them a greater possibility of getting a position in the future,” Roberts said.